NORTH CAROLINA – In a bid to help their colleagues better understand their faith, Muslim students’ Association in North Carolina State University hosted an open prayer on the Lawn on Tuesday, April 11, welcoming Muslim and non-Muslim students as part of the annual Islam awareness week.
“When you put yourself down on a low level and put your face — the nobility of a human — on the ground, you’re lowering yourself in the presence of the most High and the most powerful,” Rakan DiarBakerli, the student who led the prayer, told Technician.
“It’s a mixture of physical worship and spiritual worship.”
Diar Bakerli, a graduate student studying art and design, was addressing approximately 35 people, both Muslim and non-Muslim students, who participated in the afternoon prayer, called Asr.
The payer started with the Adhan, which was performed by Mohammad Omary, president of MSA and a junior studying chemical engineering.
Concluding the prayer, DiarBakerli led the discussion on what prayer means and why Muslims pray.
He started the discussion by explaining that each of the four parts (called rak`ah) of the prayer consists of reciting passages from the Qur’an and physical rituals including kneeling and prostrating.
Safi Ahmed, a senior studying computer science, likened prayer to a break during a game.
“If you’re in the game, and you get tired, you take a break and get refreshment,” Ahmed said. “That’s what prayer is to us.”
The event, according to Mohanad Alsaftawi, a junior studying materials science and engineering and one of the organizers, was in part meant to make public Muslim prayer less alien to people, adding that many do not understand the ritual and are sometimes scared by it.
“We are required as Muslims to, as soon as the time comes, find an appropriate area in a clean, undisturbed area, and pray in it, whether that’s in the side of a classroom, or on a grassy field somewhere,” Alsaftawi said.
“The idea behind the event is to just normalize the prayer, normalize the expression — the physical prayer in public — so that people understand why we do it, how we do it, and they can come here and ask questions,” he added.
Though the majority of those participating in the prayer were Muslims, some non-Muslim students came to observe and support without direct participation.
Joelle Fuchs, a junior studying biological sciences, attended the event to support her Muslim friends who were participating. Fuchs said it was a “super powerful” and “empowering” event, for those observing, but also those participating, as a statement of Muslim belonging.